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Walter Reed Army Medical Center To Close

Walter Reed Army Medical Center To Close

The famous Walter Reed Army Medical center will close its doors August 2011...

In what has to be one of the saddest stories in the last century of military history, Walter Reed Army Medical center – a place that has treated hundred and thousands of American soldiers, politicians and even Presidents – will close its doors later this year.

The closure comes following a 2007 scandal in which the hospital was accused of providing substandard living conditions for troops in its outpatients ward. The controversy led to improved care for the wounded, but it didn’t stop the powers that be from pushing to close the center and consolidating its operations with the National Naval Medical Center in
Bethesda, Md, in a move to save money.

walter reed army medical center to close

Walter Reed Army Medical Center To Close

Image Credit: Cliff 1066, 2002.

The official closing ceremony took place on Wednesday, 27th July. Moving is scheduled for August, and then on September 15th, the Army will finally hand over the compound to its new tenants, the State Department and the District of Columbia.

Any buildings deemed national historic landmarks will be persevered, but the rest will most likely be pulled down and developed for retail and office space, as well as other uses.

The medical center was named in honor of Maj. Walter Reed, an Army physician who treated troops and American Indians on the frontier. Among his many medical achievements, Reeds most famous was his life-saving research that proved that yellow fever was spread by mosquitoes. Unfortunately he died in 1902, aged 51, due to complications related to appendicitis.

During his last days he was treated by his close friend, Lt. Col. William C. Borden, and it was Borden who started the campaign to name the facility after the medical war hero.

After opening its doors in 1909, the Walter Reed Medical Center grew from an 80 bed hospital, to a place capable of treating more than 775,000 outpatients annually, and with a capacity to care for 150 inpatients daily. And during this time, the center has established lots of history.

It’s reported that nurses of the Vietnam era married their patients in the gardens, while other troops learnt new skills such as typing and sewing during their stay.

It was the place where President Dwight Eisenhower died, Richard Nixon received treatment, and Harry S. Truman attended his first church service after taking office. It’s also the grounds where President Lincoln was nearly hit by confederate fire; a maker on the ground identifies the exact spot he stood when the shots were fired. Army Generals John J. Pershing and Douglas MacArthur were also treated at the facility. And not forgetting the loved ones of those fighting for our freedom, Walter Reed has also cared for countless family members too.

Many celebrities from Bob Hope to quarterback Tom Brady, have dropped by to pay their respects to the wounded, helping to raise the profile of the extremely dedicated care the center and its staff provided for U.S. troops.

Although the facility will be moved to Naval Medical Center, it will still honor Reed’s memory by being called the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Nothing can replace the lives lost at war, but much can be done to help those wounded in conflicts. Unfortunately, 2011 will mark the closing of a place synonymous with giving something back to our war veterans.

That’s not to say that the government simply doesn’t care anymore, as preparations have already been to move most of the facility to the Naval Medical Center, and a hospital at Fort Belvoir, Va. However since the move is all part of a plan to save money, it’s inevitable that the center’s capacity to treat war wounded soldiers will decrease, at least during the transition period.

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  1. Walter Reed Army Medical Center to close. CBS News, 07/23/2011.
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